Rope Mill Half-Marathon June 14th 2014
Race Report by Jonathan Hiott
My goal this year was to get on the podium (top 3) in the Long Course race series for Mountain Goat Adventures. The long course is 9 miles or over with the longest race being a half-marathon (13.1 mile) race at Rope Mill in Woodstock to wrap up the series. Last year I missed the podium because I sprained my ankle in the first race of the series in Cartersville, GA and it was difficult to overcome the deficit. One has to have 4 consistently good race performances in the series to have a chance. While I didn't podium in any one individual race and came in 4th on today's race, I am still enormously pleased with my result today coming in 2nd on the Long Course for my age group.
I put in a 12-mile effort last week in Raleigh,NC where I was on temp assignment working on a technical manual. There aren't as many hills over there but I knew that I needed to get at least one long run in while I was there. This helped my confidence some leading up to the race and I rested Thursday and Friday the week before the race. I biked several times while in Raleigh to keep up the legs and cardio fitness.
Last year after the half I was having shortness of breath and rapid pulse. Well that turned out to be too many stimulants. Unfortunately, I wound up in the hospital as a result. Nothing like that this year. Experience is a great teacher!
Didn't sleep so great last night and not sleeping well while away from home. Breakfast was coffee with coconut oil and a Larabar. Not too much food, just enough. Race nutrition was 2 flasks filled with Skratch (electrolytes) and 2 gels. Nutrition was primo today.
Had a fast start on pavement , first mile was an 8-minute pace. Purposely slowed down once we got to singletrack and was putting in 9:30 minute-miles which is my comfortable long distance pace. Slowed to 10 minutes once on the hilly portion. Doing fine and not too concerned with pegging it. People passing me here and there but still just running my race. Trail is super muddy and sketchy in spots. Babying it some. Not taking too many huge risks, just want to finish strong. Checking in periodically with my cadence and it was still high. Still busting up the hills with no issue. Having a great run and feeling good. This year I really didn't go through the mental anguish I did last year. I felt light and breezy throughout this race. Good mental talk for most of the race and not too much negative chatter. On a side note, I can't believe that people stop at aid stations ,which wastes time, for water when they could easily bring water and food along. So glad I wore my Innov8 shoes since they have really nice tread and this was a super-slick course today. At halfway point still feeling good though legs were tightening up some. Feet doing OK. Finished up the Avalanche trail pretty strong and clocking in 10:30 miles. Headed back to Explorer (the 1st section of the race) for the 2nd time. This is where I turned on the gas and things got interesting. There is a uphill section leading to Explorer trail and I sprinted up that but I quickly heard footsteps behind me. It was a guy I passed while he stopped at an aid station! I don't know if he was in my category or not but I then knew that this would be a furious 3-mile finish. Started attacking the hills on Explorer and bombing the downhills. Heartrate must've been 180 throughout. Couldn't drop the guy behind me. Passed a few other peeps that were fading. Finally, with a mile or so left, the guy behind me finally fell back. This made me run even faster. Insane! I maintained a sprint pace to the end finishing strong.
It's satisfying to have a game plan going in and being able to follow that plan. Today, it was to go easy starting out then finish fast. Also, extremely proud to have finished 2nd in the series. Next season I hope to get even closer to the podium on individual races but I have some work to do in that regard. Nothing to do but just keep running!
Race Report by Jonathan Hiott